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Premier League-Linked Andriy Yarmolenko Is 1 of Europe's Underrated Players

Published by Bleacher Report on Fri, 21 Aug 2015

One of these days, a top club is going to sign Andriy Yarmolenko. The Ukrainian international, long linked to the Premier League since before Euro 2012, is a player who has drawn hundreds of admiring glances over the last three seasons but is yet to leave Dynamo Kievthe club he's been with since 2007.Everton are the latest Premier League outfit to show interest in his services, per BBC Sport, with a deal in the region of 15 million mooted. Roberto Martinez could sure use a winger that's grounded in consistency, and Yarmolenko would fit the bill.Despite amassing 49 caps for Ukraine and over 200 senior domestic appearances, the 25-year-old remains, to an extent, an unknown quantity for many. With millions of fans seemingly unaware of Matteo Darmian's ability after being unveiled by Manchester Uniteda man who started three games at last year's FIFA World Cup 2014Yarmolenko could still be considered a genuine obscurity to the wider world.He was born in St. Petersburg and moved to Ukraine aged three, grew up idolising Andriy Shevchenko and made his debut in 2008. He later played alongside the legendary figure, and, per talkSPORT, was labelled "the future of Ukrainian football" by him in the build-up to Euro 2012.But that's not what you're here for; you're here to get a feel for how a player who could soon grace English turf's game looks.Allow us to indulge you.1. PhysicalsYarmolenko is a true anomaly at his position. He's a 6'2" wingeryou don't see those very often.Generally speaking, that's too tall for a wide man, but he pulls it off, and we'll delve into why soon enough. His size doesn't make him cumbersome on the ball and it doesn't put him at a disadvantage one-one vs. full-backs. He's actually a bit of a physical freak.Long legs, a long stride and powerful arms make him a handful over long distances and in duels, but he also boasts unnatural short-area quickness and has the mobility to navigate tight spaces. He's not as quick off the mark as, say, compatriot Yevhen Konoplyanka, but he's pretty nippy.He'll beat any full-back in the airbar perhaps the Branislav Ivanovic or Khalid Boulahrouz breedbut isn't quite as aggressive as a central striker is, owed to his upbringing as a winger. He has the potential to up his game in that respect, but hasn't really needed to up to this point.2. One-on-One Ability, TempoOne of the most important attributes for a winger is his one-on-one ability; if you can't beat a man, you better have one hell of a deep cross, else you're largely useless to the side.Yarmolenko's alarming size used to trick full-backs into believing he'd be lumbering and slow, but anyone who does their homeworkhell, anyone who watches five minutes of his tapeknows better now. He's electric with the ball at his feet, direct as anyone and eager to drive into space.He gets his legs moving quickly and boasts excellent change-of-direction ability, able to weave in and out of tight spaces, surge down the line or cut inside and take on central midfielders. His odd blend of power, size, stride and quickness makes him rather difficult to stop.He's not a selfish player, though he has embraced the role of Dynamo Kiev's star forward and often drives forward with the intent of finishing the job himself. He's two-footed, able to shoot cutting in on his left and cross well on the outside on his right.Yarmolenko plays at a very high tempo, injecting intensity into every movement and putting defenders on the back foot. He takes advantage of any split-second where his markers may not be paying attention, and even something as simple as a throw-in represents a chance for him to spring a surprise.He's alert, snappy and constantly trying to find an avenue to work on. It's very rare to pinpoint a player's throw-ins unless it's a Rory Delap-esque cannon, but the speed with which Yarmolenko restarts play from them is indicative of his overall busy style.3. Switch OptionThink about it: A 6'2" winger will, on average, play against full-backs between 5'7"-5'10" tall. The size difference, as they come, is absolutely gargantuan.This is something Dynamo Kiev perhaps haven't utilised to its fullest, but the Ukraine national team certainly have.The Yellow-Blue have enjoyed the luxury of playing Yarmolenko opposite Konoplyanka for over three years now, and the results can be absolutely devastating. Konoplyanka is raw speed and venomous long-range shots, while Yarmolenko offers a more physical, bruising alternative if required.In the same fashion AFC Bournemouth relentlessly switch to Matt Ritchie to spring quick attacks on the right side, Ukraine have at times done the same with Yarmolenko. Building down the left via Konoplyanka's effective dribbles, they then switch to the far side where our man easily beats off his full-back in a one-on-one duel.He takes it down and spears forward, offering a dimension to Ukraine's game no other can. He is just as lethal as Konopylanka shooting from distance if he's given room to cut inside, but he can also hit the byline and force balls into dangerous areas.It's vitally important to stretch the pitch horizontally in football, giving yourself optimal room to play. Ukraine bypass increased defensive attention on Konoplyanka by switching regularly to Yarmolenko, who stands the ying to his compatriot's yang in terms of approach.It's a deadly duo, with Yarmolenko by far the more unique of the two. France nearly fell foul of them in the World Cup qualifiers, and England have really struggled to contain them over the last four years.4. Goal ThreatPer Transfermarkt, Yarmolenko has totalled 98 goals and 66 assists in 267 appearances for Dynamo. That's some return for a wide man not named Neymar, Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo.But his tally is skewed by the standards of the Ukrainian Premier League, no doubt. His totals dip noticeably on the continent, with goals in the Europa League (every 3.5 games) and the Champions League (just one in 12 attempts) not a patch on his domestic form (every 2.4 games).There is an element of flat-track bullying when it comes to Yarmolenko's goals; poor defending in a poor domestic league affords more opportunities than usual, and that's reflected in the drop-off in his effectiveness in Europe.That said, 12 goals and 11 assists from 42 Europa League showings is a good ratio. His goals range from the spectacular to the simple; he's capable of getting himself in the right place at the right time, yet also willing to unleash from 20 yards and find the top corner. He's unpredictable with his movements and good with either foota deadly cocktail that never fails to flummox defenders.He's not solely a cut-in-and-shoot merchanta label you couldperhaps attribute to Konoplyanka on certain afternoonsbut he nets some whoppers when he fancies unleashing on his left foot. He can find the corner consistently, and he's come close to ripping the net out a few times.The power he possesses allows him to slant inside and unleash with very little back-lift, arrowing a smooth, rising strike toward goal.5. Centre-Forward DeputyThis is a plus-point for Everton and a plus-point for anyone else: Yarmolenko can deputise as a striker and has seen increased game time in a centre-forward position over the last 12 months.He's still very much Dynamo's first-choice right-winger and has started all five Premier League games so far this season in that position, but can fill in up front when asked to and put in a shift. His measurables mean he's a natural physical fit, and although he doesn't get the room to dribble and take players on as much, he can still make himself a one-on-one handful.When Dynamo saw Jeremain Lens sent off in the Europa League last season against Fiorentina they fell immediately into a 4-4-1 with Yarmolenko treading the lonely path up top. He's big enough to hold his own and to act as an out-ball for relief, but agile enough to move across the line and hunt for space.Everton lack true options on the wing and up front, as while Romelu Lukaku is clearly the No. 1 in his position, the depth is lacking. Arouna Kone's injury-ridden time in the north west has created a need, and purchasing a top winger who can also play as a striker is a very attractive proposition. Not just for the Toffees, but for clubs such as Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur as well.ProjectionAs theMirror's Eliot Rothwell tweeted, Yarmolenko's reputation has suffered due to the constant (and misguided) comparisons to Konopylanka and he's underrated due to his willingness to stick with Dynamoa club he loves.Given that the club will compete in the Champions League this year, there's no guarantee any Premier League can lure him over to England.For Ukraine, Yarmolenko is pushed to the background a little as Konoplyanka reigns supreme, but the two together are up there with any of the best winger combinations in world football. The phrase "thunder and lightning," often attributed to a big RB-small RB duo in NFL, could legitimately be applied to these two, with Yarmolenko being the thunder.He's fast, strong, decisive in front of goal and works obscenely hard. He sets a high tempo and demands his team-mates replicate it and embraces the importance of his role in the side.A deal worth circa 15 million would be a bargain price for Everton or any other club; he's a more consistent, reliable and deadly winger than the likes of Kevin Mirallas or Erik Lamela.Follow @stighefootball
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